AmphibiaWeb - Caecilia pulchraserrana


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Caecilia pulchraserrana Acosta Galvis, Torres & Pulido Santacruz, 2019
family: Caeciliidae
genus: Caecilia
Species Description: Acosta-Galvis A, M Torres, and P Pulido-Santacruz. 2019. A new species of Caecilia (Gymnophiona, Caeciliidae) from the Magdalena valley region of Colombia. ZooKeys 884: 135-157.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Caecilia pulchraserrana is a small caecilian with a total body length range from 195 – 232 mm in females and 200 – 214 mm in males. The flattened and narrow head is longer than wide. The rounded snout projects about 1.6 mm beyond the mouth and the eyes are small and visible. The bulged nares are small, directed posterodorsally and are visible from above. The region between the eye and nares is flat, with the circular, raised, tentacular openings being slightly pointed and closer to the mouth’s margin than the nostrils. Anteriorly, the smooth tongue is attached, having some longitudinal grooves. The pointed teeth are recurved, and decrease farther back into the jaw. Externally, the premaxillary and dentary teeth are distinct. In the dorsal and ventral view, the nuchal grooves are indistinct and do not encircle the body entirely. There are transverse grooves on the collars when viewed from the ventral surface. The second collar is larger than the first collar. The body is subcylindrical and slightly deeper than it is wide. Along the body, there is slight variation in width, but the body becomes narrow at the terminal region. On the dorsal and ventral side, there are around 104 primary annuli that are incomplete with the primary annular grooves (100 – 104) encircling the entire body. Secondary grooves and dermal scale pockets are absent. The body is slightly narrower at the terminal region. The vent is circular, anal papillae are absent, and the unsegmented terminal shield is 4.9 mm long. The vent is circular and there are 12 – 15 anal denticulations that create a disc on the species. In the anterior view, there are 7 – 8 denticulations, but around 7 in the posterior view. All denticulations are similar in size (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).

Caecilia pulchraserrana differs from other similar species by the following characteristics: 100 – 104 indistinct dorsal annular grooves, smaller size, lack of secondary annular grooves, lack of dermal pockets, salmon–colored lips and ventral upper jaw margin. More specifically, C. pulchraserrana can be distinguished from the following species from the lack of secondary annular grooves: C. abitaguae, C. albiventris, C. armata, C. antioquiaensis, C. bokermanni, C. dunni, C. flavopunctata, C. gracilis, C. guntheri, C. isthmica C. leucocephala, C. marcusi, C. mertensi, C. museugoeldi, C. nigricans, C. occidentalis, C. pressula, C. perdita, C. subnigricans, C. subterminalis, C. tentaculata, C. tenuissima, C. thompsoni, and C. volcani. Caecilia pulchraserrana shares the absence of secondary annular grooves and incomplete primary annular grooves with the following nine species: C. attenuata, C. caribea, C. corpulenta, C. crassisquama, C. degenerata, C. inca, C. orientalis, C. pachynema, C. subdermalis, but can be distinguished by having a fewer number (100 – 104 vs. 114 – 199) of primary annular grooves. Finally, by having fewer primary annuli, C. pulchraserrana can be differentiated from C. degenerata (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).

In life, the body is dark brownish with salmon-colored jaw margins, tentacular regions, and between the eye and naris. The eyeballs are violet blue. The ventral part of the body is slightly lighter and the annuli are slightly darker than the body color (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).

In preservative, the dorsal view of the body is a dark gray color with khaki chromatophores. The jaw margins, periocular regions, rostral regions, vent disk, and area between the eyes and nares are yellowish. The ventral and lateral surfaces of the species are paler in color than the dorsum (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).

There is some variation between specimens of C. pulchraserrana. Some specimens have a flattened head, narrower than their bodies. The head and midbody differed slightly in average length and width across different specimens. The diameter of the eyes and distance between the eyes and nostrils varied. The prominence and size of the nares amongst specimens differed. There is variation in the number of teeth present, with the premaxillary-maxillary, vomeropalatine, and dentary teeth being 11 – 13, 9 – 12, and 10 – 13 respectively (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Colombia

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Caecilia pulchraserrana are located in the isolated mountain range of Serranía de los Yariguíes, Santander Department in Colombia. They are found in wet tropical forests at elevations of 731 – 789 m above sea level (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Caecilia pulchraserrana is a fossorial species, meaning that it burrows. Caecilia pulchraserrana were collected on black sandy soils, which have large amounts of organic matter. This species is commonly associated with marshy areas at the edge of forests. Specimens were collected in rockless wet soils at a slight incline during the dry season. The first specimen was collected between the dry and marshy areas after 10 minutes of using a hoe. To stop other specimens from escaping, it was important to create channels after the first specimen was discovered to surround other specimens. Four other specimens were collected in the same area within 40 minutes. Additionally, two specimens were found with similar features less than 20 minutes away (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).

Trends and Threats

The species is located within the Serrania de los Yariguies, which is a protected national park (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).


A Maximum Likelihood analysis on mitochondrial DNA sequences of the 16S and CO1 genes of all Neotropical caecilian families places this species in the genus, Caecilia. Combined with morphological data, C. pulchraserrana was found to be a sister species to C. volcani and closely related to the following species: C. caribea, C. corpulenta, C. degenerata, C. orientalis, and C. subdermalis (Acosta-Galvis et al. 2019).


Acosta-Galvis A, M Torres, and P, Pulido-Santacruz. 2019. A new species of Caecilia (Gymnophiona, Caeciliidae) from the Magdalena valley region of Colombia. ZooKeys 884: 135-157. [link]

Originally submitted by: Kalena Gottwald (2021-10-14)
Description by: Kalena Gottwald (updated 2021-10-14)
Distribution by: Kalena Gottwald (updated 2021-10-14)
Life history by: Kalena Gottwald (updated 2021-10-14)
Trends and threats by: Kalena Gottwald (updated 2021-10-14)
Comments by: Kalena Gottwald (updated 2021-10-14)

Edited by: Arjun Mehta (2021-10-14)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Caecilia pulchraserrana <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 20, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 20 Jul 2024.

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